Another testimony from a stressed and depressed veterinarian

The cover of Pet Hates (The Shocking Truth about Pets and Vets) by Josh Artmeier

My book on the veterinary profession was published in 2006. I continue to receive emails from grateful stressed and depressed vets.

UPDATE 7 FEBRUARY 2018: A correspondent has just published a short story about the stresses of veterinary practice, based, of course, on her own experiences.

UPDATE 2 DECEMBER 2017: A correspondent who is currently writing a more serious book on the problems facing the professions (the details of which I shall share when it is published) has just told me about the NOMV organisation (Not One More Veterinarian, an online support group for members of the profession). Their website is:

UPDATE 26 SEPTEMBER 2017: I am delighted to be able to link to the RCVS Mind Matters Initiative, which ‘aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of those in the veterinary team, including students, veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons and practice managers. MMI was launched in 2015 and is funded and run by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK.’

UPDATE 14 APRIL 2017: I just came across this article, which was reprinted in the November 2016 issue of Vet nuus-newsWhy do so many veterinarians commit suicide? Today I received yet another eloquent comment on this blog, this time from John, an Australian veterinarian with 34 years in the profession. Scroll down this page to see what he and others have to say.

Elsewhere in the issue of Vet nuus-news mentioned above is this relevant advice: 10 strategies to save yourself from stress.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2014: My attention has been drawn to this piece about the suicide of two veterinarians.  The comments below the article are interesting, and include some from the wife of the author of the guest post below, who did commit suicide.

UPDATE JUNE 2014:  I have just been alerted to this video about the high rate of suicide among Australian vets.

My book Pet Hates, The Shocking Truth about Pets and Vets, was published in 2006.  It reveals aspects of this highly stressful profession not widely known by the public. Although I gave up the job years ago, I continue to suffer nightmares related to my experiences, and I also continue to receive grateful emails from vets suffering from severe depression and stress, who identify with the book.

A few days ago I received a particularly moving and detailed account of the pressures on veterinarians from a US-based practitioner.  I reproduce it below, with permission.

I am an angry, depressed, anxiety-prone and drunk veterinarian


I am an angry, depressed, anxiety-prone and drunk veterinarian.

Why I am a veterinarian

First, we must explore why I am a veterinarian. I have lied to myself for over 30 years that it’s because I like animals, hate people, and love the challenge of medicine and surgery. Truthfully, I became a veterinarian to make my father proud of me. He always said he wanted to be a vet when he grew up but could not afford the education. The first and only of his generation to be college-educated, he became a Civil Engineer. He was a hard man and, according to my mother, a loving father.


I remember my father as a drunken, harsh disciplinarian, but I was desperate for his approval.

My memories, right or wrong, are of a drunken harsh disciplinarian who demanded 110% at all times and was emotionally and physically demanding and abusive. A-minuses were unacceptable, a 4.0 GPA out of 4.0 was not enough. The only time I recall him saying he was “proud of me” was after my mother’s prompting the day I graduated from veterinary school. I remember it clearly as I had been up all night the night before caring for a surgery horse (by the way, I HATE horses) since it was my case as my fellow students partied the night away.

I tried to garner his pride by playing rugby for the University of M_while in vet school (my brother played football for M_ and Dad was very proud of him). I was nominated to the college select side (all-state, all-star team) 4 out of 5 seasons but was told I was not doing my job during the games by my father, who did not understand the game to begin with.

His passions, similar to mine, were hunting, fishing and trapping. He reluctantly gave me hints until I equaled him, then he would become competitive and condescending as I surpassed his skills. No positive reinforcements or “atta boys” were ever given. I have a collection of trophies in my house that after his stroke he would sit look at and grin. This I had to take as a compliment as I was still desperate by that time for his approval.

In his defense he was nothing but loving, nurturing, caring and spoiling to my children, his only grandchildren. He and my mother even accepted Christina, my stepdaughter, as one of mine and theirs, to the point that she is the oldest granddaughter for the family traditional hand-me-downs.

He is gone now and I will never know if I pleased him or not. Mother says I did, but she will always cover his ass till the day she dies, such is the way of their love.

A veterinarian examines a dog

Why not be a real doctor?

Why not be a real doctor?

Secondly, let us explore this profession of veterinary medicine. Even before school I was always asked: “Why not be ‘a real doctor’? Isn’t veterinary medicine a two-year tech school degree? Don’t vets just treat everything the same way? After all, they are just animals.”

What do you mean, it’s extra to come in the night?

Since graduation the same questions arise, along with the following:

  • “How much is this going to cost, because otherwise we can just put him/her to sleep?”
  • “What do you mean, it’s extra to come in the middle of the night? You live there anyway, don’t you?”
  • “My animal is sick/injured but I don’t have any money. What do I do? You won’t treat it for free but you love animals don’t you?”
  • “What do you mean, I have to give her pills? She bites!”
Fibrous epulis surrounding the lower right canine tooth in a Boxer dog.

This dog is about to have an epulis removed, just one of many minor and major procedures carried out by most veterinarians.

No pride or satisfaction

I have, in 20-plus years:

  • sewn up ventricles in hearts,
  • patched or removed lung lobes, spleens, livers, kidneys and masses,
  • resected and anastamosed large and small bowel,
  • repaired fractured bones and ruptured ligaments,
  • repaired massive traumas from vehicles, bears, wolves and gunshot, and rehabilitated wildlife.

I’ve done chiropractic and acupuncture work and created litters that were not supposed to happen. I’ve managed liver and kidney failures, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, Cushing’s disease, tick-borne diseases, auto-immune diseases, dermatology patients, oncology patients, cardiology patients and spinal strokes, and had paralyzed patients walk, just to mention a few more! Ninety-eight percent of this has happened without the support of a referral or a specialist to help out. No personal pride or satisfaction were gained here by me, because this is just my job and results are expected.

Medical doctors “would piss themselves”

My M.D. friends, in the words of Dr C_, DVM, MS, and DACVT, “would piss themselves after one day in our jobs”. Finances are never a concern; they have one special area and ONLY one species to worry about. There is always someone smarter than them to refer to and euthanasia is never an option. In my world, I get one chance, usually less than $300, no option to refer and if it will cost too much I get to kill the patient rather than pursue a diagnosis. After 20-plus years at this, there have been several times where I delivered the patient at C-section, resuscitated it, and 10 or so years later killed it humanely (a.k.a. euthanased or euthanised), because the owners did not have the finances to pursue diagnosis or treatment further.

You just stole my kids’ Christmas!

angry man

You guys are real fucking nice!

Just in the last few months, I have been told:

  • “You guys are real fucking nice!” over a price quote at 10:30 p.m.
  • “I couldn’t pay for the last meds because I needed glasses, could you just send some more? The dog really needs them.”
  • “I’ll have to pay you later, Doc. I’m taking the family to the Dells for a few days and don’t have the money for you.”
  • “I don’t think I can keep the cat with open wounds in the house to medicate him. Isn’t there anything else we can do so he can stay outside?”
  • “Wow, Doc, you just stole my kids’ Christmas!”
  • “Your dog has a ruptured spleen I can most likely fix it” “No, Doc, just put her to sleep.”
  • “You and your wife have no compassion. You should be happy to put our dog out of its misery at 3 a.m. After all, we have been watching her suffer for days and just can’t take it any more.”
  • “We just assumed any vet could do those procedures for us.”

They always play the guilt card, and it deepens my lack of self-respect and my need to escape, and furthers my depression.

The guilt card

This list can go on and on, as they always play the guilt card, and it deepens my lack of self-respect and my need to escape, and furthers my depression.

No one knows or cares about my academic past or achievements, so why should I? (It certainly didn’t make my father say he was proud.) It depresses me daily to know how hard I worked to achieve what I have, and no one cares or understands, so why should I be allowed to be proud of them?

  • Graduated with honors with my undergrad degree (3.98/4.00 GPA)
  • Accepted to vet school, the most demanding academic program to get into and through
  • Graduated vet school with honors (3.86/4.00 GPA)
  • Passed State and National Boards at the 98th percentile
  • Elected to Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society
  • Caleb Dorr Award for academic excellence several times
  • Published in refereed journals in organometallic synthesis and glucose metabolism
  • CRC Freshman Chemistry Award for highest grade in chemistry for the year (a 98% average when the class average was 53%)
  • Finished in the 95th percentile on a national organic chemistry exam
  • 90th percentile on the GRE as a fall quarter sophomore (usually taken as a senior)
  • One of the first 100 DVM DCs to be certified in Animal Chiropractic in the world
  • One of the first private slum practitioners to be certified in stem cell therapy (“Slum” is a derogatory term I use out of anger. We work in a perpetually economically depressed area where most clients can’t or won’t spend money on the advanced techniques that I get certified in.)
  • One of several hundred worldwide certified in canine reproduction
  • One of 18 DVMs in my state certified in fish health

Again, this list can continue.

Published, won competitions… but no pride

I have been published in the areas of animal diseases and trapping, and have had several recipes published. I’ve won cooking contests; fishing tournaments and hunting competitions. I have no pride in any of these achievements.

The animals whose trust I betrayed weigh heaviest on my heart

Then there are the animals I couldn’t help or even whose trust I betrayed. These weigh the heaviest on my heart, and I have never been able to forgive myself for my failures and/or betrayals:


First was Molly, my father’s dog when I was a child. I was in charge of getting her to the kennel from the house but was too lazy to put a leash on her. She bolted on me and was hit and killed by a car a few miles from our home. Dad said it wasn’t my fault but there was never any sincerity in his voice or affection towards me since the day we found her dead. (Of course, my dog Missy was on a leash that day as she was in heat.)


Missy was the second dog I failed. She had metatstatic mammary cancer that went to her brain when I was a senior in vet school. Nothing I could do would save her, so I didn’t even try. What a betrayal of a dog that trusted me!


W_was the worst betrayal of my life.

The worst betrayal of my life

W_was next and the worst betrayal of my life. Let me insert some information on him and what he meant to me.

W_ was a gift for me for graduating from veterinary school. Named after a favorite instructor and rugby team captain from vet school, he was my one and constant companion at that time, riding on all farm calls, all fishing trips and of course all hunting trips. By one year of age we had killed 186 birds over him and trained almost daily. He fetched when he wanted to, worked upland and water fowl. His nickname by the locals was “Hoover”, because he vacuumed up all of the birds in the field. In ten years NO ONE ever killed a bird behind him, ever. In his last three years of grouse-hunting here in the north woods we kept a log. We averaged killing one out of eight birds flushed and one out of three shot at, and in three years we killed 476 ruffed grouse over him, including a limit with my wife the morning before my son T_ was born. Doing the math, that dog and Doc worked over 3,800 birds in three years!

I killed him

I betrayed him and his trust in me by killing him in our own house. He sat right there looking me in the eye as I gave him the lethal injection. He died emotionlessly in my arms, never fighting it or questioning his trust in me. His transgression was biting my son, and to this day I do not know whose fault it was as I did not see it happen. My memory says my wife said the dog leaves the house or her and the kids do. In the moment I felt as though I had only one choice. In retrospect, I had other options. I have seen his ghost hunting with me on some of his favorite trails and now EVERY time I euthanise a dog I have to look W_ in the eye as I do it. Hell, I KILLED my best friend! Ted Nugent’s Fred Bear song reminds me of W_, and I cry helplessly every time I hear it. Fester, my current buddy, was named in W_’s memory by my wife….His pedigree name is Drjac’s Fred Bear O’Dee. in the hope that W_ will walk the trails again with me, despite what I did to him.


Next was Morticia, my wife’s finished field bitch. She had an infraspinatus contracture that needed surgical correction. I offered my wife the option to have the vet school do it or me, and she mistakenly chose me. Several days post op, after a long battle and a trip to the vet school where they said we don’t know what is wrong but she is going to die, they were correct. I believe she had an anaerobic bacterial infection that was either triggered by surgery or post op antibiotics, or was coincidental. The world will never know, but I will always blame myself and harbor the sight of my wife sleeping with her dead dog overnight in the basement, and there was fuck all I could do to change a thing.


The last example I will use is Sassy. Sassy was a bear hound that should never have made it out of the woods: multiple fractured ribs, punctured, collapsed and lacerated lung lobes, lacerated kidney, lacerated liver, ruptured spleen, diaphragmatic hernia, and perforated bowel. No whole blood to give for transfusions as it was three days away and the cost was prohibitive. My trauma team (ME and my wife) worked on her for three weeks, day and night, and finally lost.

Please save her!

She was owned by a doe-eyed 12-year-old girl, who said, “Please save her!” So we tried. The first week she was with us the only way we could get her to eat or interact was to have my 7-year-old doe-eyed daughter crawl in the cage with Sassy several times a day and hand feed her. By the second week I had two little girls begging me to save this dog. The end of the third week she threw a pulmonary embolism and died. I can only believe if I had done a better job, or had better skills and equipment, I could have saved that dog for those little girls.

Again the list could go on and on, after 20-plus years.

I drink to stop the spin and out-of-control guilt and pain


I drink to stop the spin and out-of-control guilt and pain, only to have it return in the morning.

I take no pride or pleasure from my wins and only guilt and blame from my losses. This is at least one pattern I need help to break, please. I drink to stop the spin and out-of-control guilt and pain, only to have it return in the morning.



About biowrite

I am a writer specialising in non-fiction, particularly in assisting people with their biographies.
This entry was posted in Guest Posts, My books/commissions, Pets and vets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Another testimony from a stressed and depressed veterinarian

  1. says:

    I’m interested in medical doctors pissing themselves after one day in the job, much like most of the vets’ patients. I should buy you a drink after reading all that…

  2. Jennifer says:

    Holy crap. I am a veterinarian with 10 years’ experience, compassion fatigue, burnout, anxiety attacks and flashbacks. This profession may eventually kill me, but unfortunately, it’s also currently paying my mortgage and student loans. My undergraduate degree is in English. How did you get out of veterinary medicine? I’ve been trying, but it’s hard to see your options clearly when you’re depressed and stressed.

    • biowrite says:

      So sorry to hear that, Jennifer. You are certainly not alone. In my case it’s a long story. One day I decided I could take no more. At that time I had a writing contract. The commissioner ran out of money but I was certain we’d find a publisher so accepted when she offered me a share in the book and finished the book while living off credit cards. We found two publishers that were interested but they both eventually pulled out saying that the book carried too great a libel risk. We published it ourselves ( ). We haven’t yet had major publicity as the tale it relates forms the basis for a long-running civil case against a local authority. We eventually expect that Angela will win, in which case the book will receive publicity and she will pay me to write the next one. It should pay off eventually!

      in the interim I got into debt as I was writing the book on a wing and a player. I worked for a member of the Scottish Parliament for some time and now have a couple of part-time jobs, including furniture removal. As I say, I still get nightmares about being a vet and would rather do anything else!

      I do hope things work out for you! Stay in touch.

  3. biowrite says:

    Oops! On a wing and a “prayer”, not “player”! 😀

  4. JamesB says:

    I’m finishing my first year practicing and coming to the horrifying conclusion that I made a huge mistake. Why did I ever do this to myself and now I face a mountain of debt so not sure what else I can do and at the same time make an earning that I can at least attempt to pay off my massive student debt with (any ideas for professions to go into from here?). On top of it, my girlfriend is still in vet school so I can’t complain about my work because it makes her feel bad for being in vet school. Can’t talk to my family about it either because they all think that I am doing my life long dream and therefore must be in complete bliss – telling them otherwise would give them too much grief. Being a vet sucks. I wish someone would have been honest with my about that from the start.

    • biowrite says:

      Dear James

      So sorry to read this. All I can do is empathise and let you know that there are many others who feel the same. I am sure you have thought of various possibilities for your future such as specialising in some area of veterinary research or teaching. You could do a PGCE and become a secondary school biology teacher, for example.

      I completely understand how difficult it is for you to talk to others about your crisis. One of the most difficult things is talking to people who have not experienced the horrors themselves. Most people think it’s a glorious profession and they tend to think there is something wrong with you for not coping.

      By the way, I continue to get nightmares about the profession although I haven’t practised for eight years. The last nightmare was only a couple of days ago, and I must have had several every month this year.

      Warm wishes

      • Ana says:

        I’m unfortunately in the same situation as JamesB and so many others. I realized the mistake I made on my last year of Veterinary School, while working as a veterinary assistant. It’s been 6 years since then. The experience at the clinic traumatized me to the point where I’m not graduated yet, and I still work as a vet assistant. I abandoned my first tesis on purpose and have been working on a second one but unwillingly. I just don’t want to graduate but I need to because every single person I know wants me to. All my other classmates have graduated as well. To reveal that I don’t want to graduate on purpose would leave them devastated and disappointed. My mother seems to know how I feel but deeply in her heart denies it, but she can tell, since I look more exhausted and depressed.
        Is hard to come to the conclusion that you don’t like your profession, specially veterinary. All pet owners tell me it was their dreamed job. Looking back I was super excited when I was admitted to vet school, out of thousands. The career is extremely hard and I even end up loosing some good friends of mine because it consumes all your free time. They couldn’t believe that I had to study that much, and they ended up thinking I was just making up excuses.
        People in general thinks that working as a vet is mechanical and rewarding. Cause if you have the vocation, you can do this job effortlessly. But it is not like that at all. Each day, pet and owner are a challenge.
        Despite my dissapointment with the profession, as a vet assistant I still work my hardest for the pets. The days I work are the ones with the most clients, and pet owners ask on the phone if I am available. At times I feel really motivated of graduation because of this, but the idea of my own private practice terrifies me. I would end up killing myself, since I already have the drinking habit.
        My childhood veterinarian warned me the day I told him I wanted to be like him. He told me that I wouldn’t make much money and that it was really hard. As a child, my thoughts were that I would do it no matter what. Big mistake.
        Thankfully I don’t have a huge debt since I didn’t had to pay much, so I am seriously thinking on graduating in order to have closure. Then I’ll quit my job at the vet clinic and will get a loan to study something else. Even if everybody hates me for it. Or I have been thinking on the option of working as a veterinarian in a totally different area such as a sales agent for pharmaceutical veterinary companies. I don’t care anymore.

        It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one.

      • biowrite says:

        Dear Ana

        Thak you so much for this. It rings so many bells. Your refusal as a child to accept the advice you got is so typical. It seems that many people find it ipossinle to believe what it is like until they have gone through these experiences themselves. I think you should graduate and then use the degree as a springboard for something else. Good luck!

        Warm wishes

  5. Jon says:

    Wow. So much of me is in what you have to say. Have been in this profession 20 years, 15 of it with my wife in a practice we own together. Currently we are trying to deal with the loss of a dog last year following an accident, probably a heating pad burn, with a surgery. I’ve had so much heartache in this profession and have struggled in so many ways to make it and our practice survive. The treatment we’ve gotten from the owner, my staff, and the state Board of Veterinary Medicine have been demeaning and extremely depressing. I’m not sure we can stand to keep in our practice much longer, and I certainly don’t have the desire to. Sadly we will have to stay here for a few more months just to cover our loans. And it would be nice to find someone to buy it from us so it is not a complete loss. Wish I’d heard and understood your message many years before. And I wish I could drink to cover it over.


    • biowrite says:

      Thanks so much for this message, Jon. So sorry things are so bad for you. Alas, things did not go well with my guest blogger. I think it’s very important to find a sympathetic ear. Counselling may be helpful. Good luck.

  6. drbrucelyle says:

    The feelings expressed here are ones heard all to often in veterinary circles and meetings and a predominant reason I choose not to associate with many colleagues. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but there have been a few life experiences and learnings which have brought me to a greater point of inner peace, enjoyment in practice, and in life outside of practice. I found this blog researching for my upcoming radio show on Tuesday, August 19. I have chosen to discuss the topic of depression and suicide in light of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, and will have Dr Bo Brock of Lamesa, Tx joining me. Dr Brock has become a highly recognized humorist, speaking and writing about his experiences in a small west Texas town, and a brilliant veterinarian to boot. My mission with having taken on the radio show (Wild About Animals Radio Show, also available as a podcast on iTunes, etc – this isn’t an advertisement btw, as I haven’t figured crap out about marketing the blog or podcast or jack doodley) was to raise people’s awareness of the value to them of their animals, the value of the veterinarian to them, and hopefully the value of self to my friends and colleagues who have not had the advantages of the experiences I have had. Please contact me at if I can help you. I hope you listen to the show ( on www or 770 AM in DFW), or check out the blog and podcast at Two divorces, two broken engagements, one uncle’s suicide on one side of the family and a grandmother who attempted suicide 2-3 times on the other side. I’m not a psychologist, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Select one night! Peace.

  7. kiki says:

    Wow, I hope you divorced your “wife”. If my hubby would offer me to kill my cat or he’d leave me with children I would choose a cat, because his readiness to kill our pet for his convenience would show there is something seriously wrong with him.

    • His child was bitten by the dog. She, the wife, put her child’s safety first. Unfortunately dog bites, and even severe cat bites, can be severe and even fatal. You don’t know if they will bite again or not and it’s better to be safe than sorry that some was injured by your pet. It’s a liability. Also, I’m sure the child who was bitten would fear they’d be bitten again. Yes, it is hurtful to put down an animal you love, but you can not put them before your children and loved ones.

  8. kiki says:

    Definitely, you had a bad wife who got you into this sin.

  9. kiki says:

    Relax, if your dog died in the accident because of bad lack what can you do? nothing. Bad lack happens, why should you demand and blame something what you had no control of? Let it go. When the little girl bagged you to save her animal, you tried your best, but if the circumstances were stronger then you, what can you do? You are not the God. You were honest and did your best and this is enough, and this justifies you. Let it go, relax, find something else or don’t do anything, do whatever you want, be free and the wound will dissolve and heal. You can’t change the past, who you were in the past, what you thought in the past. At least make yourself a nice present and don’t care about future, live now, forgive yourself.

  10. wanderer says:

    a friend just passed away last sunday. she was the director of rehab for a large veterinary clinic here. she had helped my dog when he was 10 months, with physical therapy, and we became friends since.. She had a personal affection for CH kitties and took them whenever she could.. from what people have said, it is likely to have been suicide.

    I’ve been reading articles regarding veterinary depression.. I know now, had I become a vet or a doctor, I would be in your shoes.. INTJ, workaholic, never good enough, i could have done more.. because I’ve said all these things, felt all these things when I helped causes that were natural (and unnatural) disasters.. from 9/11 to hurricanes that devastated homes in FL.

    The reason for mentioning all this, and writing this comment.. is I know it may be hard to look at all the lives (animal and human) that you’ve saved, but I’m certain, certain without a doubt, that in all the years you’ve practiced, you’ve saved more than the few tragic ones that slipped through. The unfortunate thing, is you just don’t hear about them as often or as much.. for patients that leave after their animal has healed.. you don’t hear how much of an impact you’ve made on the human’s and animal’s life because that animal survived… i am certain it is profound; the impact that you’ve made.

    Release your guilt and hopelessness please. it doesn’t do you, your family, your animals, your clients any good to hold onto it. like kiki mentioned above, you are not God. you are human.

    the best to you.

    • biowrite says:

      Thanks for your comment, Wanderer. Alas, the author of this guest blog went ahead and committed suicide. Very sad news.

  11. Nadia says:

    I’m a third year in veterinary school and this is utterly depressing. I don’t feel like there’s any turning back as I’m over 200 grand in debt at this point. Any advice on treating and preventing burn out?

    • biowrite says:

      Dear Nadia

      Forewarned is forearmed, so don’t despair. The veterinary degree gives you an excellent broad background in the biological sciences, and it’s a huge achievement to obtain one. I would look into specialising in something less stressful than front-line vetting. How about looking into further studies in genetics, biochemistry, bioengineering, epidemiology, toxicology, pharmacology, etc? You’ve still got a couple of years of study ahead of you and you may find a particular area stimulating. There may well be funding available if you get good marks in your chosen area of specialisation.

      As far as treating/preventing burnout are concerned, if you do have to go into practice you could try to work as much part-time as possible and also try to work for a practice that contracts out the after-hours work. Another option is to do locums, which I did for many years. It’s quite hard to start off this way (as one needs a certain amount of experience), and it has its own stresses (travelling a lot and not being able to have a routine), but at least, no matter how stressful a particular job is, one knows one is only doing it for a short time. Other advice would be to always find time for a hobby or socialising well away from the profession. The worst situation you could find yourself in might be a small isolated practice where you are frequently on call and there is no opportunity for socialising.

      Good luck and stay in touch!

  12. chickenwheel says:

    Wow being a vet does sound stressful. I work as a lawyer and am feeling burnt out, stressed out, and dissatisfied to the core after 5 years practice. The professions are a massive challenge huh. I wonder what a lower stress option would be. The professions pay more I guess but it really does not seem like enough or worthwhile these days. Maybe IT is the cruisier one to get into now.

    • biowrite says:

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear that being a lawyer is also horrendous. I wish I had an easy answer for you. I hope things get better.

  13. Sofia says:

    Dear Veterinarians,

    This post really touched my heart! I hadn’t considered how much guilt and pain you must experience. I too spent many years seeking approval from others, and wanting to be recognized for my accomplishments. I realized that I was in a desert searching for something that people, money, and a career cannot give you!
    In a very dark moment for me, God touched my life.
    I found the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. I learned that someone loves me enough to have given his life for me and his name is Jesus. He is the God who loves us when the world abandons us. Even when your father and mother forsake you, God will take you up and sustain you. He paid the price so that those who live in guilt can be set free!
    The peace of God and the Joy of the Lord surpasses all understanding as he is with us in every storm and trial of life. I hope that you turn to Jesus in your deepest moments of despair and ask him to come into your heart and help you! I pray against suicidal thoughts and for God to heal the brokenhearted again! My life has been changed completely as I now have peace!
    Please seek Jesus. You can find out more reading the Gospel of John, and by listening to Charles Stanley online!
    Also, you can submit your requests for prayer online through an online prayer meeting at (Times Square Church Prayer meeting). God bless you!

  14. imrana says:

    hallo i sow your post ,i am from bosnia and hercegovina ,and also vet .. I became a vet because of my pearents ,wanted to please them, but now i hate it .
    I wanna tell you that i feel so much better now that I know that I am not alone ,feeling like this
    best wishes

    • biowrite says:

      Thank you, Imrana. I am sorry you are unhappy in the job but pleased you feel better to know others feel the same way. That was a big motivation for writing my book.

      Take care and good luck!


  15. Emma says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’m currently a second-year vet student and I’m finishing up the Fall semester. I have started to have to deal with depression and major doubts of wanting to continue. I know that this could be caused very well by the rigorous schooling but I have read and talked to so many vets regretting going into the profession. i’m currently dealing with making the decision to take medical leave which I think I would benefit from after finishing this semester. I just don’t think I could handle much more of the schooling or even the profession itself. Does anyone have any advice as to what I could do? I only have a bachelors in biology with a minor in chemistry. I’m not sure what jobs are out there or what type of continued education I should be looking into . Any advice is appreciated!

    • biowrite says:

      Sorry to hear about your struggles, Emma. It’s a very tough degree. You don’t say what your particular interests are or why you wanted to be a vet in the first place. If you aren’t called in any particular direction this TEDX talk might help? Good luck!

  16. J. Halliday says:

    Dentistry isn’t much better. Not worth the money anymore. Considering Third World missionary dental work with the wife instead. If I wasn’t 52 and arthritic, I would work cutting timber instead.

    • biowrite says:

      Thanks for this interesting comment. I didn’t know that this profession was also high-stress. Any books/blogs making this point? If not, perhaps there’s an opening for you there? Good luck, anyway.

  17. Tara says:

    I guess I can’t whine about not going to veterinary school… I busted my ass and put in lots of volunteer hours and got really solid grades. I didn’t get in the first year, but I did get accepted into 2 schools during the second admission cycle I applied for, but I was confused by my lack of enthusiasm and excitement when I learned I have been accepted especially since I had worked so hard and thought that I really wanted it… I still second guess my decision to walk away, but I guess I knew subconsciously that this career can really eat a person alive. I spent some time as a veterinary assistant, so I have a little bit of an idea. Of course, the debt we have to go into nowadays was a whole other can of worms. I’ll probably always regret not going, but I think I would have regretted going to vet school even more. anyway, I hope things improve for you soon. I know this is probably little comfort, but you have comforted me by reconfirming to me that I made the right choice to walk away, so I like to thank you for that.

    • biowrite says:

      Thanks very much, Tara, and good luck to you! It’s very likely you saved yourself a lot of grief if you had such doubts so early.

  18. I've Made a Huge Mistake says:

    After 16 years of working in a profession that I HATE, I realized that being a vet is not a good profession for someone who has a passion for animals. Private practice with small animals is really not about respecting and caring for animals. It’s about giving human animal owners what they want and what makes them feel like they tried without actually trying.

    Most humans have pets for egotistical reasons and don’t consider the well-being of the innocent creatures they keep prisoner in their homes. I still love animals but absolutely hate dealing with the horrible treatment they receive. I’m forced to commit moral and ethical crimes because people are paying me. That’s what people want. What is seen as “right” in the vet profession is often very, very wrong, in my opinion. Between the big business of animal product sales and human convenience, thinking any of this is about animal welfare is a joke.

    I appreciate others being willing to share this dark side of the profession, as most people think it’s just so wonderful to be a vet. I’m keeping my head down and trying to make as much money as I can over the next 6 years so I can permanently leave the profession. This requires me to disconnect from my feelings of horror at the work I must do on a daily basis. I should have listened to the advice I read in a book years ago- if you have a hobby you love, don’t turn it into a profession as it will ruin it for you.

    • biowrite says:

      Thank you so much for this comment, furbabyvet! It certainly resonates with me. This is a major point I made in Pet Hates. I really hope you can last the six years until you can be free. Good luck and warmest wishes.

  19. John says:

    Same in Australia…
    Thanks for the blog…I read it with great interest and particularly found the comments from others fascinating. I can concur with most of the comments.
    I am a veterinarian, having endured the job for 34 years!!! Yes; 34 long years!!!
    Private practice is a nightmare!…make no mistake about it. I have worked in many, both in Australia and overseas. Most are poorly organised. Most of the nurses are depressed and hating the fact that they are SO underpaid and under-appreciated. Nurses at least have some passion for the job. Most of the vets do not. Many of the vets regret their decision to have become a vet and lament the fact that they continue to do it…of course there are exceptions; good luck to them.
    For many of us, it’s all about being underpaid and under appreciated. Most of us spend our time dealing with pet owners who seem to be from a parallel universe; dealing with emotional and at times irrational people is not an easy gig. Discussing money is never easy of course, especially when the public default position is that the vet does it just because he ‘loves animals’ and is ‘overpaid’…yes; most of us at one time loved animals altruistically and very few of us are paid any where near what we should be. Makes it just damn difficult.
    On top of that, private practices now often survive on their ability to spruik unnecessary products and treatments. The scientific aspect of veterinary SCIENCE seems often neglected in the pursuit of veterinary capitalism and profits and greedy practice owners. Sadly those of us who originally had an ‘altruistic’ bent toward the profession have largely had it thrashed out of us, by both employers and the public.
    Without a doubt the training, ie in the biological sciences is second to none; I will forever treasure the fact that I have a sound understanding of medical and biological sciences but …put simply; the application of that science in practice is often, sadly, a nightmare!
    My advice to students; be thankful for your intelligence, knowledge and undoubted drive..but get out of it while you can. If you continue with the profession; look elsewhere than practice…so many great other things you could do!!!!

    • biowrite says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, John, which nicely summarises many of the issues. I hope you can find a way out!

  20. Nicole says:

    Wow!! I didn’t know that there few of us that are on the same boat! I’ve been practicing as a veterinarian almost 2 years by now and I’m starting to feeling exhausted. After graduated from veterinary school, entered to an internship program which a learned a lot and then entered to the emergency world. And I’ll tell that I love stabilizing patient but my interaction with owner are affecting my passion and love for veterinary medicine. Medical expenses are a big deal… I’ve received threats from clients, I’ve discharge patients with a PCV of 9% AMA, I’ve euthanized FLUTD cats, because owners could not afford the cost. Few owners looked at my eyes and told me “I have no money”; “Is nothing you can do for my pet?”. In other hands; I’ve seen clients coming through ER services for skin allergies or masses that has been there for about a month. As you know; on ER services unstable and critical patient comes first however people does not seem to understand it and are expecting immediate care. And mostly of the time same owner will give ou a hard time because the time wait.

    I used to love medicine, nut now I can’t find the joy on it. I feels that this medical field is not for me and is not giving me peace or happiness on my live. Instead is given nightmares even on my days off. I have been trying to discusses this topic with my husband; but he does not understand how stressful can be. Also; attempted to communicate this with my family but they ignore my feelings because they feels that my salary is compensating all the stressful moments (which I don’t feel the same way). Definitely, my salary is helping me paying my expenses and students loans. But I’m far away to call this job “the job of my dreams”

    • biowrite says:

      Thank you, Nicole! I am sure that many of us sympathise and understand exactly what you are experiencing. Perhaps you should refer your family to all the evidence, which now exists, that what you are going through is common. At least they might become supportive then.

    • John Teather says:

      Nicole, Hi…I just read your post. Mine is the one just above yours. Be assured that lay people will NEVER understand how you feel about it!…whether they be family or friends or the bloke in the corner store!!! Wishing you the best, John

  21. Sarah S. says:

    I feel enormous camaraderie with these people. I had dreamed of becoming a vet for as long as I can remember. Loved vet school, though I thought the stress would kill me, however I was very happy with my success and graduating at the top of my class as a “non-traditional” older student.

    Now in private practice, having worked at multiple practices, and forced to practice medicine “the owner’s way” because “this is the way it has always been done”. No access to decent analgesics. Not allowed to sedate an animal if it is a “drop off euthanasia” as “sedation is for the “owners” not for the animals”. REALLY????? Is this not the new millennium?? There is nothing worse than having an animal struggle during it’s last moments. It is downright cruel and it makes me crazy. We do euthanasias “No questions asked”. There is a part of me that understands this, as there are worst fates than death, and if the owners do not wish to take care of their pet, I would hate to see it banished to the cold or suffer an even more horrible demise. However, this is not why I got into veterinary medicine. The 12 and 10 hour days are killing me. I am tired of having no home life and I miss my family terribly. I am hoping to start a house call practice, though with the onerous student debt, this will be difficult.

    Any high school student who wants to “shadow” us for a day or a week and comes in all starry eyed, thinking they are going to play with puppies and kittens all day, are discouraged not only from me, but from my associate. RUN, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!!!! Get involved in a lucrative career where you will have normal hours and a LIFE. OR OWN YOUR OWN PRACTICE and do things YOUR WAY.
    So tired of having to euthanize because people have no money to deal with a urethral blockage and bitch and complain about the prices. Last week had to euthanize a 6 year old pug for chronic FAD. I was told by my boss I had to do it. The dog was a nasty cuss, however, I have to wonder if that was because the poor thing was flea infested it’s ENTIRE LIFE and the OWNERS WOULD NOT LISTEN TO OUR RECOMMENDATIONS.

    • biowrite says:

      So sorry to read your testimony, Sarah. I do hope you can find a way to get out of this. It sounds as if what your practice is doing is unethical. Is there any way you can whistleblow and get protection? Perhaps get some confidential advice from the RCVS? Good luck, anyway.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s